Dirty tricks in Richmond

Last week the Evening Standard covered the "increasingly bitter and personal" election battle for the highly marginal seat of Richmond Park in south London.

Front-runners to be Richmond's MP are Conservative challenger Zac Goldsmith and the former Liberal Democrat MP for the area
Susan Kramer, defending a majority of just 3,731 votes.

Zac levels the accusation in the piece that "Kramer has told the most appalling lies about me and is intent on misrepresenting my position on almost every issue."

But more interesting was his claim against his Lib Dem opponent that "one of her activists even tried to infiltrate my campaign by applying for a job as a data-entry clerk. He gave his name as John O'Grady, but he was really Dan Falchikov, a Lib Dem activist."

Confronted with the allegation, Ms Kramer doesn't dispute it, merely agreeing that what Mr Falchikov did was "unacceptable" but claiming that "It has nothing to do with me. Falchikov is not part of my campaign team and he never was."

But that just doesn't add up, as this isn't the first time we've heard of this Lib Dem activist up to tricks in Ms Kramer's neck of the woods.

Falchikov last surfaced boating loudly on a train that he had "got Evening Standard to claim Lab has secret plans to shut Kingston Hospital" - a
scare campaign that Susan Kramer has made a key plank of her re-election bid.

Unfortunately for him,
Falchikov's boasts were overheard by the Daily Mirror journalist Kevin Maguire, who also reported via Twitter, "Train bloke now boasting the hospital scare story cooked up at his kitchen table."

Falchikov was later identified after Maguire took his photo and posted it on online.

Would Susan Kramer seriously have us believe that Falchikov is a rogue Lib Dem activist who just happens to busy himself spinning false claims about a subject Ms Kramer has made a lead issue in her election campaign, and attempting dirty tricks against her main rival, yet has nothing to do with her campaign?

In the absence of greater reassurance being provided by Ms Kramer that she has no connections with Falchikov, the weight of evidence to the contrary is starting to speak for itself.